Two new studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found dietary intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the blood can promote the integrity of brain structures and cognitive abilities in aging. Both studies examined patterns of omegas in the blood of 100 cognitively intact older adults ages 65 to 75. Researchers analyzed the relationship between these patterns and participants’ brain structure and performance on cognitive tests and found correlations between blood levels and fluid intelligence. Fluid intelligence is the ability to solve problems that have not been encountered before.
Adults with higher blood levels of omega-3s had larger frontoparietal cortices, which in turn, predicted their performance on fluid intelligence tests. In the second study, researchers found the size of the fornix was linked to a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the blood and a more robust fornix coincided with memory preservation in older adults. “These findings have important implications for the Western diet, which tends to be misbalanced with high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids and low amounts of omega-3 fatty acids,” Zamroziewicz said.